ISLAMABAD: A son of the top Afghan Taliban leader and chief of the Haqqani Group, Jalaluddin Haqqani, was reportedly killed in a targeted attack on the Simli Dam Road in Islamabad when two bike-riding gunmen opened fire at him on late Sunday night, sources claimed.
The victim was identified as Dr Naseeruddin Haqqani, who had been a spokesman of the Haqqani network based in Afghanistan with the name of Zabiullah Mujahid.
The Islamabad Police did not verify the report. However, the intelligence agencies cautiously confirmed the killing of Dr Naseeruddin Haqqani in Bhara Kahu. The police sources confirmed the incident of the target killing, saying that two gunmen riding a motorcycle, started firing at an unknown person who came to a Tandoor in a car along with another person to buy Naans. The police, quoting the people who witnessed the episode, said that two bike riding persons stopped behind the car, opened fire and disappeared towards the Simli Dam.
The witnesses said that the unknown victim and Naanbai later identified as Muhammad Farooq sustained bullet injuries, adding that the colleague lifted the unknown victim in critical condition, put him in the car and sped away towards an unknown place, leaving the other injured person behind. However, the locals shifted him to the Poly Clinic. The unknown victim, who was later identified as Naseeruddin Haqqani, was taken to Miranshah, North Waziristan.
Police sources said that the police searched all the government and private hospitals to ascertain the identity of the unknown victim, adding that the targeted person was killed on the spot and his colleague, straightaway, took the dead body to an unknown place.
Police sources said that the police found another body lying some two to three kilometres away from the place of the occurrence towards the Simli Dam. The deceased was kidnapped from Koral police station area three days back.
Mushtaq Yusufzai adds from Peshawar: “Yes it is true. Naseeruddin Haqqani has been killed by unknown people in Islamabad in the night between Sunday and Monday,” a senior member of the Haqqani network told this correspondent.
Pleading anonymity, he said some people had taken Naseeruddin to Bhara Kahu area, outside Islamabad, and shot him dead.He said Naseeruddin was living in Rawalpindi for the past many years along with other members of the family.
He was the elder brother of Sirajuddin Haqqani, leader of the Haqqani network, which reportedly had carried out deadly attacks on the US and Nato forces in Afghanistan. The Haqqani network is active in Khost, Paktia, Paktika, Logar and the capital Kabul.
According to Taliban sources, Naseeruddin’s bullet-riddled body was initially shifted to his Rawalpindi home and then transported for burial to Danday Darpakhel, a village located three kilometres northwest of North Waziristan’s headquarters Miranshah, where some family members of Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani have been living since 1980.
The Taliban leader said that the funeral of Naseeruddin, who was also known as Doctor Khan among the Taliban fighters, was scheduled to be held at 4pm on Monday at Danday Darpakhel village, but his body couldn’t reach there in time due to a curfew clamped by the local administration on Sunday and was still in force.
“We sent some people to bring his body through unfrequented routes as traffic on the main road from Bannu to Miranshah was blocked on Sunday,” a Taliban leader close to the Haqqani family said.
Some members of the family confirmed Naseeruddin’s death but had no idea who could have killed him.Naseeruddin was the eldest son of former Afghan Mujahideen commander, Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani and elder brother of Sirajuddin Haqqani. Jalaluddin Haqqani remained the minister of tribes and border in the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
Naseeruddin was once captured in Pakistan by the security agencies along with his uncle but he managed to keep his interrogators in the dark about his identity.Around that time Baitullah Mehsud captured around 300 Pakistani soldiers in South Waziristan in July 2007 and in a prisoners’ swap that followed the government freed several dozen militants, including Naseeruddin and his uncle from the Pakistani prison.
The Haqqani family is said to have given enormous sacrifices, more than other Mujahideen leaders, first against the Soviet Army and later against the US-led Nato forces.Three of his sons — 17-year-old Omar Haqqani, Mohammad Haqqani who was 22 and 35-year-old Badruddin Haqqani have already been killed.
Omar was killed in a firefight with US-led forces at Satto Kandao in Khost in 2008, Mohammad Haqqani and Badruddin Haqqani, stated to be an operational commander of the Haqqani network, were killed in the US drone attacks in North Waziristan, in 2009 and in August 2013, respectively.
The Haqqanis have suffered significant losses during the past few years due to drone strikes, which has enormously affected its field operations across the border in Afghanistan. First they lost Badruddin and then in September 2013, Maulvi Sangeen Zadran, another prominent commander, was killed in a US drone strike in North Waziristan.
In 2009, the United States had announced $5 million head-money on Sirajuddin Haqqani and later announced reward for his two of his brothers — Naseeruddin Haqqani and Badruddin Haqqani.
On September 7, 2012, the US designated the Haqqani network as Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO).
The Haqqani network kidnapped US soldier Bowe Bergdahl from the Paktika province in Afghanistan in 2009 and is still holding him. In June 2010, the US Treasury sanctioned Naseeruddin and two Afghan Taliban commanders as ‘specially designated global terrorists’ for their role as senior leaders and financiers for the Taliban and Haqqani network.
Though the US and its allies in Afghanistan consider it a separate militant faction, members of the Haqqani group consider themselves part of the mainstream Afghan Taliban, headed by Mulla Muhammad Omar.
The 37-year-old Sirajuddin Haqqani, also known as Khalifa among the Taliban, is currently leading the militant network. He was nominated as the operational commander of the network after his ailing and elderly father Jalaluddin Haqqani became inactive.
Sirajuddin Haqqani is an active member of the Afghan Taliban Shura headed by Mulla Omar.In two exclusive interviews with this correspondent, Sirajuddin Haqqani proudly recalled how he had dared and risked his and his family’s lives by reorganising the Taliban fighters to wage Jihad against the invading Western forces in Afghanistan.
He stated that when he started, none of the senior Taliban leaders were even willing to be called Taliban anymore as the United States, through false media propaganda, had created the impression of its power and intelligence.
He started off with over a dozen fighters only from the Khost province in Afghanistan, bordering Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal region.Jalaluddin Haqqani had two wives, one an Arab lady from the UAE with whom he had two sons. His Arab wife lives in the UAE along with her two sons.
The Haqqani network has also been blamed for an assassination attempt on President Hamid Karzai and suicide attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul. It reportedly helped a Jordanian national, Dr Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi to attack the CIA station in Khost and killed seven CIA agents in 2010.Except for the Kabul Serena Hotel, the Haqqani network did not get the credit for other major attacks in the Afghan capital.
AFP adds: A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban confirmed the death and vowed to take revenge, accusing Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency of killing him.
“Nasir-ud-Din Haqqani has been martyred by ISI. He was killed because he bravely supported Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud,” Shahidullah Shahid, the main spokesman for the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), told AFP.